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England hold the aces but weather is the concern

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Highlights - Bairstow steers easy England win (3:40)

England thrashed the West Indies in their first ODI winning by seven wickets, at Old Trafford (3:40)

Big Picture

Despite West Indies' well-documented woes in recent years, it's still pretty shocking to consider that one of the most storied teams in the sport - the winners of the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979 - are now in serious danger of missing out on qualification for the 2019 event. Defeat at Old Trafford confirmed that they can no longer overhaul Sri Lanka as the eighth automatic pick. They must instead now muscle their way through a qualification process in which the likes of Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands will all have serious aspirations of their own, and if the lethargy of Tuesday's loss is anything to go by, they dare not take anything more for granted.

It was a listless display from West Indies in the opening match - notwithstanding some lusty early blows from the returning Chris Gayle, who marked his first ODI appearance since the 2015 World Cup with 37 from 27 balls. Worryingly, the energy of their victory in the one-off T20 in Durham had dissipated entirely by the end of the contest, which might well have been wrapped up with more than 11.1 overs to spare had Ben Stokes not been reining himself in to ensure that Jonny Bairstow had time to rack up his maiden ODI century.

We've been here before with West Indies on this tour - as a team effort, this was by no means as pitiful as their innings defeat in the first Test at Edgbaston, and we all remember how they bounced back from that setback in the second Test at Headingley. But, in the 50-over format, it's hard to see from where the telling improvements are going to materialise.

Marlon Samuels, another of West Indies' returning grandees, was especially culpable in sucking all momentum from the middle of their innings - his 17 from 46 balls contained no boundaries and a wasteful 31 dot balls, stats that sum up the fundamental difference between the approaches of the two sides. Joe Root, to name just the most obvious contrast, failed to score from just 17 balls in a similar-length innings, including his first three sighters, en route to 54 from 53 balls.

England's performance wasn't entirely without fault. They were at times spectacular in the field, but a bad miss from Root at slip off Gayle might have been more fiercely punished on another day. And, for all that he enjoyed a fine day with the ball, to follow up his six-wicket heroics in the Lord's Test, Stokes suffered a Kolkata redux moment at the death, when a more zealous umpire might have expelled him from the attack for two beamers in a final over that went for 15 runs.

But, having stumbled badly in their previous ODI outing, the Champions Trophy semi-final against Pakistan, England's performance was a return to the sort of front-running batting power that has been a hallmark of their recent upsurge in white-ball cricket. West Indies started the series needing a whitewash to secure their World Cup qualification. On the evidence of one match, the one-way traffic is more likely to head in the other direction.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)
England WLWWW
West Indies LLWLL

In the spotlight

Once again, there are rumblings afoot about England's captain, Eoin Morgan, whose rampant form from the top end of the summer has gone up in a puff of smoke. Morgan's career is among the most peculiar in the modern game - approximately one-fifth international kingpin and four-fifths T20 nomad, if you wish to boil it down to its essence. He hasn't played a first-class match for Middlesex in two years, he captained their T20 team to an underwhelming seventh place in the Blast South Group, and has just returned from a sojourn with the Barbados Tridents in the Caribbean Premier League, where he contributed scores of 2, 2, 5 and 0. His innings of 10 in the first ODI, therefore, was a relative triumph. Nevertheless, with Jason Roy on the outside looking in since his form loss in the Champions Trophy, Morgan will be aware of the continued pressure to perform in such a super-charged batting line-up. For the record, his canny leadership remains unquantifiably important to England's improvement in white-ball cricket, but runs are the only currency that truly resonate. He generally finds a way to silence his intermittent doubters.

Where now for Marlon Samuels? His innocuous performance in the first ODI was a concern for West Indies, especially given how much hope had been riding on his recall. But, on a personal level, the lack of runs won't hurt him nearly as much as the identity of the man who got him out. The war of words between Samuels and Ben Stokes has been unusually diverting as these things go, given how long it has been dragging on and how varied its iterations have been. But there was a sense watching Samuels on Tuesday that, having warned Stokes that he ought to hide on the other side of the boundary when he was batting, he became rather preoccupied with not giving it away. Maybe getting out to Stokes is the spark he needs to take his game to the next level - a cattle-prod of incentive to take the attack back to England. West Indies will certainly hope so.

Teams news

No real need for England to make any changes to a winning line-up, although the temptation to blood Tom Curran must be growing, not least because of his prowess at bowling at the death, one area where England didn't quite get their lines right on Tuesday. David Willey's left-arm attack is valued for its variety but he remains slightly anonymous once the initial new-ball swing has worn off.

England (possible) 1 Alex Hales, 2 Jonny Bairstow, 3 Joe Root, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 David Willey, 11 Liam Plunkett

No specific shortcomings in West Indies' side, just a collective malfunction to correct. After picking two spinners for the more receptive surface at Old Trafford, there may be a temptation to trade one of them, probably Devendra Bishoo, for an extra quick. Alzarri Joseph and Miguel Cummins are on standby.

West Indies (possible) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Evin Lewis, 3 Shai Hope (wk), 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Jason Mohammed, 6 Rovman Powell, 7 Jason Holder (capt), 8 Ashley Nurse, 9 Devendra Bishoo, 10 Jerome Taylor, 10 Kesrick Williams

Pitch and conditions

Trent Bridge has been one of the grandstand venues for 50-over cricket in recent times, with Nottinghamshire habitually racking up totals in excess of 400 in the Royal London Cup, and another straw-coloured belter has been prepared for this game. But, all eyes on Thursday are likely to be on the heavens, with a dismal autumnal deluge pencilled in from about 12pm to 7pm. A rain-reduced wallop in the early evening, perhaps? West Indies might not complain if that's the case. The shorter the game, the more their power-hitters come into play.

Stats and trivia

  • England are returning to Trent Bridge for their first ODI since the visit of Pakistan in August last year, when Alex Hales crashed an England-record 171 on his home ground, to power his team to a new world-record total of 444 for 3.

  • Their most recent international fixture at Trent Bridge, however, was less auspicious. South Africa crushed them by 340 runs in the second Test earlier this summer, only days after they had themselves slumped to defeat at Lord's.

  • Moeen Ali needs two more wickets to reach 50 in ODI cricket.

Quotes

"I'm not someone who ever looks too far ahead because you know how quickly things can change."
Jonny Bairstow is taking nothing for granted after making his first ODI hundred

"From the start we had, with Chris [Gayle] and Evin [Lewis] flying, we were looking at a really good score. But we fell away badly in the middle."
West Indies' batting coach Toby Radford sees the positives in defeat